Aug. 28, 2009
By Danny Mattie
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- The No. 24-ranked Colorado State volleyball team suffered its first home loss in 29 matches on Friday night, dropping their season-opening tilt with West Coast powerhouse Pepperdine in the Asics/Coors Classic at Moby Arena. Despite a raucous crowd of 3,876 fans, the Waves held on for a 25-23 victory in set 1 and cruised to the 3-0 win by scores of 25-17 and 25-14 in the second and third sets.
Colorado State (0-1) staked to early leads in each of the three sets, but Pepperdine (1-0) battled back to overtake the Rams, who despite the loss, were able to get some important contributions from freshmen Megan Plourde, Izzy Gaulia and Dana Cranston.
“It was really positive to see some young players like Izzy and Dana come out and play well tonight,” said sophomore setter Evan Sanders. “You couldn’t tell by the way they played that they were freshman.”
Earning her first career start at CSU, Plourde, who was granted a medical redshirt after playing in five sets a season ago, tied sophomore opposite hitter Katelyn Steffan, junior outside hitter Danielle Minch and senior middle blocker Tessa Nelson for the team lead with six kills. Plourde hit .308 for the match, just behind Steffan (.333) for the team lead, but the Rams as a team were only able to muster a .163 hitting percentage.
“The stat sheet kind of tells the story tonight,” said Head Coach Tom Hilbert. “No. 1, we didn’t pass well, and we didn’t hit as high a percentage as we need to against a team as good as Pepperdine. The great equalizer for us has been blocking, and we just didn’t block well tonight, either. But we will get better.”
Gaulia, a freshman defensive specialist from Glendale, Ariz., and Cranston, an outside hitter from Fort St. John, British Columbia, each saw action in two sets tonight. Gaulia recorded three digs for the Rams, while Cranston took five swings, but was held without a kill, and recorded one dig and an assisted block.
After jumping out to leads of 11-8, and 14-10 in the first set, the Rams were unable to hold off a strong run by Pepperdine, who scored 11 of the next 15 points to take a 21-18 lead. And despite a furious comeback effort, the Rams dropped the first set 25-23.
Pepperdine’s Lilla Frederick led all players with 13 kills, while Rachel Grochmal and Kim Hill added 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Hill hit .500 for the match, and the Waves held an advantage over the Rams with a .271 team hitting percentage. Setter Kiah Fiers also played a good match for the Waves, recording 30 assists and 12 digs, second to 16 digs by
The second and third sets, however, were not as competitive, as CSU was unable to answer long Pepperdine rallies before falling 25-17 and 25-14, giving the Rams’ first home loss since a 3-1 defeat to No. 9 Utah on Nov. 18, 2006, and their first sweep at Moby Arena since Oct. 7, 2005 vs. BYU.
“This has to be a learning experience,” added Hilbert. “We will play a lot of good teams in our non-conference schedule, and if we get obsessed with wins and losses, we will not improve. It has to be about improving with every match.”
The Rams will look to do just that, beginning Saturday night, when they play host to the Oregon State Beavers (1-0), who opened the tournament with a 3-1 victory over Cal Poly. The Rams will face off against the Mustangs to close out the tournament on Sunday afternoon.
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